Wi-Fi phone calls on air flights: debate for the major US airlines

Under a proposal from US federal regulators, passengers could have the possibility of making calls during flight with Wi-Fi. Currently, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) allows Wi-Fi calls, but prohibits regular cellphone calls.

On one hand, the US airlines trading group is supporting this initiative, as a spokeswoman of Airlines of America, Kathy Grannis Allen, has declared: “we believe airlines should be able to determine what services can be safely offered in flight and make those decisions based on what is in the best interests of their passengers and crew members”

However, this enthusiasm is not shared by both flight attendants and the customers. The representatives of the flight attendants feel the calls might be disruptive for the other passengers. In reply, the DOT (Department of Transportation) explained that a possible way of preventing customer dissatisfaction is to inform all passengers about the company’s flight calls policy at the moment of ticket purchasing. Customers may decide to change their flight arrangements accordingly.

Wi-Fi calls debate in America

Moreover, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, Sara Nelson, admitted that allowing such a policy is „reckless” and that it is a threat for the securiy of both passengers and flight crews. The major US airlines are not eager to adopt such a measure, or are prudently reviewing it, at best. While JetBlue and Delta did not adopt an official position, United Airlines is currently reviewing it. Southwest Airlines has strongly expressed that it will not allow Wi-Fi calls, underlining the concerns voiced by its customers.

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